Jun 15, 2010

My elusive Great-grandmother Emeline

Early on in my research, all I knew was that my great-grandmother was born Emeline Amelia Smith in Abington, MA. I also knew she died in 1945 and is buried in Salisbury. Putting the rest of her life together has been the hardest puzzle I've had so far. I've been able to make a lot of assumptions from bits of information I've gathered, but still no "Ah Ha, here's the proof" moment until yesterday.

In 1880, Henry Welch was living with his parents Jacob and Esther in Sanford, Maine. His marital status was listed as widowed. Emeline Smith could not be found. By the 1900 US Federal Census, Emeline and Henry Welch were living in Sanford and had 3 sons. Emeline's birthplace is Massachusetts and her parents were born in England. The family also appeared on the 1910 and 1920 censuses. By 1930, Emeline was widowed.

During the time I was searching for information a cousin sent me an e-mail. She told me she had seen the death record in Salisbury, but didn't say anymore about what was in the record. In another e-mail, she thought Emeline's father was named Jacob but didn't say where that information came from. Soon after, I heard that she had passed away.

In 2007, I visited the Massachusetts Archives in Boston in hopes of finding Emeline's birth record. I viewed the entire microfilm of the Abington birth records for 1854 and found only one possibility. A Smith child, no first name listed, was born in May but neither parent was born in England. Another disappointment.

Bit by bit, I found more information. Her first son was born in Windsor, VT and the other two were born in Sanford, Maine. Although her age was not consistent on the various censuses, one record showed that she was born in October. Searching for her on the 1860 and 1870 censuses, the only Emeline A Smith I found that might be her was a child of Patrick and Rose Smith, both from Ireland. The age was right and they were living in Abington, MA. By the 1880 census, Emeline Smith did not show up in the indexes, but Patrick and Rose Smith had a daughter, Emeline Griffin, listed as married, living with them. I had no knowledge that Emeline was married before Henry, so again I dismissed this connection. Too much didn't add up.

Then a few months ago, I found the Abington Birth Records on Footnote. I decided to try again. I searched for Emeline A Smith and this time there was a record. The birth had been recorded late and was included in the 1855 records. The date of birth was Oct 6 1854. The parents are Patrick and Rose Smith both from Ireland. I was becoming more convinced that this was my Emeline.

Yesterday, I visited the Town Hall in Salisbury to view her death record. I wanted to see if her parents names or birth places were listed. At first glance I was disappointed. The record lists her father's name as Jacob and mother as Unknown. Their birthplaces were also unknown.
But then I noticed that her death date was July 16 1945, and her age at death, 90 years, 9 months, 10 days. That would make her date of birth.....October 6 1854! I believe I have found my great-great grandparents.

How do I reconcile the fact that the death record names her father Jacob? Information for Death Records is often obtained from family members who are giving it from memory. The grandfather that they knew, Emeline's father-in-law, was named Jacob.